The money will fund preservation and restoration projects at five of the Nature Conservancy’s preserves — covering about 7,500 acres of land — in the watersheds of the Trinity and Brazos Rivers, the Texas Gulf Coast and the Edwards Aquifer, which serve the state’s three largest metropolitan areas: Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
It’s one of the latest in a series of beverage-company funded projects to improve water quality and ensure companies’ access to fresh water.
“Water sustainability and water management issues is a big thing right now and is going to be a long-term trend, especially in the beverage industry because water is the primary ingredient in their product, but it’s something we’re seeing across all markets,” Frost & Sullivan research analyst Ankur Jajoo said.
According to USA Today, big players including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Miller and MolsonCoors, as well as regional beverage companies, list long-term water supply as a risk.
A June report from Ceres said Anheuser-Busch InBev, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are among the 27 percent of companies assessed that made the connection between climate change and water risk in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2009.
In 2006, the industry’s big guns including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi, Nestle Waters, Ocean Spray and others created the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable to address water and energy issues.
USA Today says experts put the total amount of money invested in water conservation projects by beverage companies over the past five years at more than $500 million.
For example, Dr Pepper started cleaning bottles with air instead of water on 56 production lines in 2010. Its LEED Silver-certified distribution center in Victorville, Calif. uses a reverse-osmosis filtration system and recovers 50 percent of the purification system’s discharge.
By 2015, the company plans to cut water use and wastewater discharge 10 percent per gallon of finished product, compared to 2009 levels.
Coca-Cola has developed a beverage process water recovery system that can reduce a manufacturing plant’s water use by up to 35 percent. The company has pledged to improve water efficiency 20 percent by the end of 2012 compared with a 2004 baseline.
Last year, Pepsi met its goal of improving water use efficiency 20 percent by 2015, compared with a 2006 baseline. The company also says it will provide 3 million people with access to clean drinking water by 2015.